Not boredom like I’ve been doing nothing and have nothing to do; what I have to do is so tedious that my mind is wandering onto nearly anything that interrupts the monotony.
My medical finals are in three days. And as I do the 3000th MCQ or past paper question today, I think it’s forgivable that my mind moseys onto other, less important things. In this case, that’s buns.
Cinnamon buns. Have you seen Better Call Saul, yet? The excellent Breaking Bad spin-off makes American chain Cinnabon looks so unbelievably appetising in its opening scene that I sat in the library for a solid week salivating, lamenting the lack of any Scottish branch. Product placement works on me, anyway.
So here’s the recipe I used to make some (superior) substitute cinnamon buns. These are much less sickly than the aforementioned chain’s offerings, the subtle sweetness of the dough balancing well with the cream-cheese icing. The secret to the most amazingly soft buns you’ll ever have is baking them in a pot; the cold, thick walls and steamy, lidded environment prevent any crusts from forming.
TIP: If your tastes lie on the more American spectrum of life and you fancy an oozing sweet centre, up the brown sugar in the filling to a whopping 250g. Mix this with two teaspoons of corn flour so the filling holds its shape after baking. And enjoy your diabetes.
For the dough:
500g plain white flour
8g table salt
One sachet (7g) instant yeast
50g caster sugar
280g milk, warmed until tepid in the microwave
1 medium egg, at room temperature
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
For the filling:
Another 50g butter
Soft brown sugar; a sprinkling (or 250g as above)
2-3 tsp cinnamon
For the topping:
250g icing sugar
150g FULL FAT cream cheese
Makes 6 US-sized buns.
- First, make the dough. Weigh your flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, egg and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix them together. Yup, just bang em all in. If you’ve got a mixer or you enjoy kneading, give it a slap about for 10 minutes. If not, just leave this covered for 30-40 minutes at room temperature and the yeast will do their thing and you don’t need to knead.
- Heat your butter (best use the microwave) until just-melted, then add this to your dough. Mix it in by hand or using a machine until completely combined. Cover your bowl with cling film and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or until it has swollen to roughly double its original size.
- Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. You want the rectangle to be about 20cm by as long as you can make it – mine was nearly a metre without any effort. Melt your other 50g of butter in the microwave and brush this over your rolled out slab. Next, sprinkle on your brown sugar and finally an even coating of cinnamon.
- Roll up your dough along its long edge (so it’s still 20cm wide post-rolling, I mean). You’ll essentially have one really tall cinnamon bun. Slice this cinnamony sausage into 6 roughly equal pieces using a knife. Line a large lidded casserole pot with a piece of baking paper (non stick greaseproof) and arrange your buns on their cut end, as shown above.
- Place the lid on your pot and leave your buns to rise for another hour at room temperature. Half an hour before you’re going to bake them, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
- Your buns should have risen plenty. I sprinkled a little more cinnamon on top at this point, then placed the pot in the oven, lid on. In my oven using a heavy cast iron pot, my buns took 40 minutes lidded then another 10 minutes with the lid off. If your pot is thinner walled, they’ll probably bake quicker – check ‘em after 25 minutes and make sure the sides aren’t crisping
- It was late, so I left my baked buns overnight. I awoke to observe their glory. God, they’re awesome. Tear them apart and make the cream cheese icing – use an electric whisk to beat together your cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl; no sieving needed. You need to beat for at least 5 minutes, and eventually you’ll have stiffish peaks. Spread this over your buns. Congratulations, you should now be very happy.
My new book, How Baking Works, is available for pre-order. It is out March 12th and it is bloody amazing. Order it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Baking-Works-what-doesnt/dp/009195990X/